State Fair of Texas Names Best Fried Foods in Big Tex Choice Awards

Every year, the State Fair of Texas invites creative cooks to compete for a golden statuette in the Big Tex Choice Awards, a food contest open to fair concessionaires with only one requirement: everything must be fried. Over Labor Day weekend, three judges tasted their way through 52 fried entries, including deep-fried pork wings, fried cactus bites, mac and cheese sliders, and deep-fried tres leches cake. But only two fried concoctions can be crowned with Big Tex's ten-gallon hat.

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This year, Butch Benavides took home the most creative award for his fried bacon-wrapped cinnamon roll: a classic cinnamon roll dipped in sweet pancake batter, rolled in bacon crumbles, deep-fried, and blanketed by powdered sugar. The best-tasting award went to Abel Gonzales, Jr.'s. deep-fried jambalaya. The spicy rice balls are packed with chicken, sausage, and shrimp, coated lightly in flour, fried, and served with a spicy ranch sauce. This is not the first prize for Choice Award veteran Gonzales, whom the Dallas Observer calls the "Friar of Fried." His past trophy-winners include fried cookie dough, fried Coke, and the Oprah Winfrey taste-tested and approved fried butter.

Also on offer this year from former Girl Scout and fair food veteran, Christi Erpillo, is the deep-fried Samoa cookie, in honor of the Girl Scouts of America 100-year anniversary. Erpillo tucks the Girl Scouts' second most popular cookie (Thin Mints take the prize) in a wonton wrapper, fries them, before topping them with chocolate, caramel, and toasted coconut.

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The State Fair of Texas isn't the only fair devoted to over-the-top foods. At the Minnesota State Fair this summer, adventurous eaters snacked on Cajun-seasoned alligator sausage, deep-fried candy bars, and spaghetti and meatballs, all served on sticks. Some of the strangest foods on offer at fairs across the country last year included a hot beef sundae, a Krispy Kreme chicken sandwich, and chicken-fried bacon.

The State Fair of Texas runs from September 28th through October 21st.

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